Josie Clark is a blogger, mother and grandmother who is a frequent contributor to Activated.
I grew up around creeks, lakes, and rivers, but when I was sixteen I went to Atlantic City, New Jersey, and saw the ocean for the first time. At the boardwalk the night we arrived, I walked out on a wooden pier. As the first thunderous waves crashed beneath my feet, I grabbed the railing, terrified. Since then I have had a cautious fondness for the ocean. I’ve never been a strong swimmer, but I love the look of the ocean, the feel of sand between my toes, and even the weightless feeling of being lifted from my feet and carried about by gentle waves—as long as I have something buoyant to hang onto.
I’ve always loved cats and felt that I had a way with them, but I met a challenge in J.J. and Felix. They were a gift from my daughter-in-law. Toni had started feeding their mother, a feral cat, shortly before she succumbed to the perils of street life.
When J.J. and Felix moved in with me, they quickly hid under beds. Our relationship began with me lying on the floor and reaching out to them.
As I rushed around the streets of Morelia, Mexico,the stoplights were crowded with beggars. It was Christmas Eve, and I had gone out with my 10-year-old daughter for some last-minute shopping.
“Look at her!” Cathy drew my attention to an old woman who had stopped begging momentarily and was rubbing her cold, bare feet.
I think I have been guilty of saying “I’m sorry” too much, and that seems to have given my children the wrong idea. Years ago, for example, when my five-year-old fell off his bike, I said I was sorry. I had specifically told him to not ride up the hill on his newly acquired used bike until his dad had checked the brakes and taught him to use them, but he went up the hill anyway.
Jesus gave us the key to happiness and harmony when He said, “Love your neighbor as yourself.”1 What exactly does that mean, in practical, everyday terms? One of the best explanations ever given is found in the Bible’s “love chapter,” 1 Corinthians 13. Times and terms have changed, but the underlying principles are as true as ever. Here’s how the apostle Paul might have put it if he were writing to us today.
The tree is trimmed, turkey defrosting, presents wrapped and under the tree. It was a long list, but I think I remembered everything and everyone. Today I promised myself I would stop for a moment and think about the important things. I would put aside the menu plan and leave the cookbook recipes for a moment to think about Christmas and what it means to me. Of course I find myself remembering family and friends and all that has happened during the past busy year. I think back to all the “presents” Jesus has given me.